The following are features of Kingdom Fungi:
1. They have no roots, stems, or leaves.
2. They lack chlorophyll, are non-photosynthetic and have to get their own food by feeding on dead plants or animals. (Notice the lack of green colour, because of lack of chlorophyll).
3. Most fungi have cell walls made of chitin, which is a polysaccharide.
4. Their body is made of a network of small, tube-like laments called hyphae.
5. Fungi store carbohydrates as glycogen.
6. Fungi reproduce asexually by small structures called spores.
There are 3 major phyla in Kingdom Fungi. These are Phylum Basid-iomycota, Zygomycota, and Ascomycota.
Basidiomycota is the most common division of the Fungi Kingdom. Mush-rooms and toadstools are in this division. The part of the mushroom that grows above the ground is the reproductive body and is divided into a stem, cap, and gills. Spores are released from the gills and are dispersed by wind.
Mushrooms should be collected during the rainy season. Mushrooms can be found on dead and decaying materials like logs in the forest. Mushrooms may also be purchased in supermarkets.
Dry mushrooms in sunlight or preserve them in alcohol (a clear methylated spirit that is 70 % alcohol and 30 % water).
For the dissection of a mushroom, remove the cup of the mushroom and observe the gills. Cut the stem vertically with a razor blade and observe the inside.
Zygomycota grows on rotting material and looks like small white thread. An example of Zygomycota is bread mould or mucor.
Bread mould may be cultured by exposing some slices of bread to moisture. If you live in a dry area, add a few drops of water to the bread and close in a clear bag. For mucor culture from fruits like tomatoes, keep in warm and moist conditions. In dry areas, enclose in clear bags.
Ascomycota are single-celled organisms called yeast that grow on the surface
of rotting fruit and reproduce by budding. Yeast is used to bake bread and create alcohol.
Yeast can be purchased at any shop.
Keep yeast in an air-tight container.